Entryway Solution? Maybe

Our entryway has been a bit of a mess ever since we moved in (the one from the garage to the kitchen; the main entrance doesn’t really get used, but this one gets lots of traffic).  So much so that I don’t even have any decent pictures of it.  You can catch a glimpse of it here:


And then here’s a phone shot from a few weeks ago when we finally hung a mirror.


The problem is that the piece of furniture we had there (an old server) just did nothing for us storage-wise.  And it also wasn’t really my style.  So I had been on the hunt for a solution, but wasn’t exactly sure what would work.  And with a growing Mini Bunches, I’m also not positive that whatever solution we find now will be something lasting for the future.  Which brings me to my point: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Or time.  Especially if it’s something we might outgrow in a few years.  Enter thrift stores–the cheap solution to almost everything.

And so two weekends ago, when Mr. B was away for his annual Idiot Nation trip to Vegas, I hit up my favorite thrift store.  You know, the one where I found this blue beauty (I’m still regretting not scooping her up when I had the chance, but I digress) . . .


Unlike my last visit to this particular Salvation Army, this time around it was slim pickings.  But just when I was about to leave, I spotted this:


Admittedly, not much to look at, but I liked the mid-century lines, the size was right, and it was solidly built of wood (except for the yucky laminate top, but I dealt with that during my last furniture refinishing adventure, so no big deal there).  And the price?  Just right.  Actually, better than just right–just $15 kind of right.  SOLD.

Once I got it home and wrangled it in the house (it’s super heavy so some wrangling it did take), I got to work.  Since I only had nights and nap times to work my magic, I wasn’t planning an extensive refinishing; rather, I was just going to follow the steps John and Sherry took on their TV stand overhaul and hope for the best.  So here’s what it looked like once I got it home and completed the first step: CLEANING.


I scrubbed the piece down with a Magic Eraser just like YHL did.  And I also wiped down the drawers with a vinegar-soaked rag.  My results?  Well, as you can see above and below, the Magic Eraser removed the finish in quite a few places.



Again, since I only paid $15, I wasn’t too upset about that, but if you’re trying to fix a piece that you really care about, then maybe test out the Magic Eraser in an inconspicuous spot first to be safe.  But it did remove a lot of grime, so it wasn’t all bad.  As for the vinegar wipe-down of the drawers, that totally worked–it completely removed all the musty old smell.  So we were 1 for 2 at this point.

Up next?  A little conditioning treatment.  Using these (again, just like YHL):


I first used the Howard Restor-A-Finish to wipe down everything.  It definitely brought some shine back and made the dried-out wood come back to life a bit.


Much better, right?  It didn’t completely fix all the spots where the Magic Eraser had, er, erased, but it helped a lot.  I then used some leftover Minwax wood stain in walnut to rub in the really light spots, and when even that didn’t fix things, I used a Mr. Sketch Scented Marker in Brown.  That, my friends, worked WONDERS.  I just scribbled it on, and then wiped it away.  It was just about perfect at evening out any light patches.  So once all of that was done it wasn’t looking so bad . . .



My last step was to give it a good ol’ rub down with some wax–the Howard Feed-n-Wax.  And just like Mr. Miyagi says: wax on, wax off.  That step took less than 30 minutes, and this thrift store find was complete!



In addition to the desk, we also added a coat rack (from Crate & Barrel here) and a basket for shoes.



I’ve also ordered a steel truck from Steele Canvas to put on the left-hand side of the desk.  That way we can just drop our bags into it and hopefully keep the area looking reasonably pulled together.


So there you have it.  Our second attempt at wrangling some type of order in our entry way.  Here’s hoping it works!


And a little bonus Mini Bunches just for making it all the way through this post . . .


Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May you especially appreciate all your loved ones today . . . for my part, I am sure this will be the best Valentine’s Day yet.  So thank you Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches for being my sweetest Valentines.

Oh, and this Hallmark Holiday was just the right excuse to change out the chalkboard pantry.  So we are no longer Cherishing the Season . . .



And instead appreciating all the love surrounding us . . .

photo (6)


photo (5)


Of course, that didn’t seem quite good enough.  It needed something more personal . . . PICTURES!!

photo (7)


Aaahhh, much better.  Now, Love is in the Air!

DIY Valentine’s: Map out your Love

It’s been a while since I’ve done any DIY’ing (not sure that’s a word, but whatever), so I thought I’d give it a go.  Truth be told, this was a project that I started a couple years ago (how’s that for intimidating–a DIY that takes 2 years to complete!  Yep–a couple hours of actual crafting and two years of procrastination).  I actually just had the idea a couple years ago, took some starting pictures, and then got busy with things like moving to Buffalo, buying a home, and starting a family.  Oops.

But let’s get to the craft at hand: DIY Valentine’s using maps and confectionery hearts.  Here’s a shot of the final products:


And now, the play by play.  Start with some maps.  I used an old road atlas, but you could use any maps really–as long as they’re maps that mean something to you or someone you want to send the Valentine to.


Then, get yourself some of those confectionery hearts.  I got a pack of four boxes at the dollar store.  On a sidenote, I think these things are absolutely disgusting–they taste like chalk.  Is that just me?  Personally, my favorite hearts are SweetTarts, but the sayings on those are too hard to read, so I went with these instead.  Then, just pour them out and pick out any with good sayings (you’ll probably have to throw out half of them b/c the printing won’t be centered/legible/make sense/etc).


Once you pick out some good ones, just put the hearts next to a place with some meaning–I chose to place them near where the recipient lives, and snap a picture.


I used my dslr to take the pictures, but you can also get pretty great results with an iPhone and Instagram:


Then, just print out the pictures.  I ordered them online through Snapfish and picked them up an hour later at my local Walgreen’s.  Not the best quality, but since these are just for Valentine’s cards and not destined for frames, I figured that was fine.


Once I got the pictures, I also grabbed some blank Valentine’s cards in the $1 section at Target.  Pack of 8 cards & envelopes for $1?  Yes please!  One pack had cut out hearts and the other were just plain chevron lovelies.


Then, I just cut down each picture to center the confectionery heart in the opening, and I gave the pics rounded corners just for a little something extra.


Once they were cut down, I added some double-side tape, made sure the pic was centered just so, and pressed.


Now, some of my little hearts weren’t quite centered in the pictures I took, so those I put in the chevron cards.  Which, of course, meant that I had to cut out hearts.  Since my cutting job wasn’t stellar, I outlined it with a black sharpie.  Black Sharpies–they hide all kinds of sins.



So there you have it, customized cards for your loved ones:


And I could’ve stopped there, but well, I didn’t.  I was craft-crazy and Mini B was taking an uncharacteristically long nap.  So I embellished.  I got out my pseudo-washi tape (not real washi tape, but close enough–also from Target) and got my embellishing on.




So much better right?  So there you have it–some easy DIY Valentine’s for your nearest and dearest.


Oh, and this idea doesn’t just work for Valentine’s Day–I gave Mr. B a framed shot for our wedding anniversary last year (he proposed in Boston Common).



And for those just waiting for Mini B to photo bomb this post, here you go.  Quite the heart breaker this one, eh?


Cher is on the Sea

Huh?  Just look . . .






Clear?  Okay, okay, I don’t actually know where Cher is (probably Vegas?), but it was either that or “Her son is on the sea” and that didn’t sound as catchy.  Still confused?  Well, don’t be–it’s just that I finally finished a home project that I’ve been wanting to do since we were in the midst of our kitchen renovation.  Of course, I didn’t get to finish it then because, well, I had a baby.  I know–weak excuse.  So through the magic of the Internet, let’s go back to the beginning . . .


I know it’s hard to focus on just one atrocious part of the above pic, but let’s try–focus on the pantry doors in the hallway.  They become even more off-putting once the rest of the kitchen gets a face lift.


See what I mean?  They were just awful.  The first step?  Painting the trim white and priming the doors as dark as possible.


Already so much better, right?  Mr. Bunches was all, ‘Oh, we’re going to paint them grey?  That’s awesome–they look great.’  And then I had to be all, ‘No–that’s just the primer.  Puh-leeze.’  But, it did make me think that maybe we should paint the rest of the doors in our house–possibly in some darker shade of grey?  Just sayin’.


The next step?  Chalkboard Paint!  We used Valspar Chalkboard Paint from Lowe’s.



They look pretty slick, right?  Of course, they need new handles, but I was under a bit of a time crunch (this all took place prior to the holidays), so I figured the new handles could wait.


And while you may think that they were ready to be all chalked up with some fun holiday greeting, well, you would be wrong.  See, first they had to be “conditioned” which basically means you have to cover the entire surface with chalk and then erase it.



And in case you were wondering, yes, this process is messy and DUSTY with a capital D-U-S-T-Y.


Once the conditioning was done (and the dust vacuumed), then it was time get my artsy on.


Once I finished chalking the doors up with season’s greetings, I thought they still could use a little more cheer.  So I decided to move my Instagram pics out of Instagram and onto my doors:




I left the bottom blank since we were expecting some wee visitors at the time and I figured they might like to get their own artsy on (they did).  All in all, I’m in love with the result and I can’t wait for Mini B to make masterpieces on those doors as she gets older.  But for now, we’re just cherishing the season :).


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Remember how we redid our half bath?  If not, you can check it all out here.  If you’ll recall, when we last updated you, we were mirror-less in the half bath.  Womp, womp.

Well, I’m happy to report that the situation has been remedied.  I decided that I could no longer make decisions.  Well, I guess I made that one decision to no longer decide.  Confused yet?  Anyways, I also figured that we should start using what we already owned instead of going out and buying new stuff.  So I went on a mirror hunt in the basement, and I came up with this:

It was the old mirror from our dining room back in Boston (and apparently it was from Bed Bath & Beyond, although I have a hard time believing I spent that much money on it, but whatever).

Anyways, I wasn’t crazy about the black frame.  But the shape and size were good, so I figured I’d try my hand at spray-painting it.  And just to keep everything neutral, I decided to go with silver.  Titanium Silver to be precise.

I then proceeded to tape off the mirror with blue painter’s tape . . .

I used a bunch of smaller pieces so that I could tuck them in along the curves.

Then, I added newspaper to cover the entire mirror so that I wouldn’t end up with paint everywhere.

Then the operation moved outside.  I set the mirror up on a large broken-down box and got my spray on.

Oh, and I also decided I’d spray some old frames while I was at it.  Here it is after one coat . . .

After two coats (I started finding frames everywhere and kept adding them in) . . .

And finally after three coats (I had to actually stop and buy another can of spray paint–I really don’t understand how people cover stuff in only two coats using one can?  Am I over-doing it or something?  What am I missing?) . . .

Pretty good, right?  And little ol’ naive me then just figured I had to let it all dry, remove the tape, and I’d be good to go, right?  So I put it all in the garage to dry for a few days so that it was good and cured.  And then I removed the tape.

And I guess from a distance it looked okay, but that dang spray paint got everywhere!  Including underneath my newspapers.  Grrr.

So out came the handy-dandy razor . . .

And the spray paint scraped right off.  Voila!

All that was left was hanging it.  Now, in retrospect, I think I hung it too high.  That seems a common problem in our house–I think it has something to do with being tall.  Oh well, at least it’s up, right?

What do you think?  It’s an improvement, at least, right?

Now our guests won’t be freaking out wondering whether they’ve got boogers hanging out of their noses.  You’re welcome guests.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who’s the fairest of them all, well, it’s this girl.  Duh.

Project 4: Rock and Swivel

As promised, we’ve finally turned my $10 chair find into a comfy, rocking, swiveling chair to rival all chairs (okay, so maybe it would lose in the Chair Olympics to some newer models, but in the low-cost events, it would totally clean up).  If you recall, this is what Big Bird looked like when I brought her home . . .

And although she looks essentially the same now, trust me–there’s a lot more going on under that skirt . . .

Before I give you a somewhat not-so-detailed explanation of how we converted Big Bird into a rocking swivel chair (I was, after all, on baby duty during much of the process), I first have to give credit where credit is due . . . so here’s the tutorial from Honey & Fitz that inspired me and informed our decisions along the way:

Step 1: Buy a rocking, swiveling base.  I got mine at Swivel-Chair-Parts.com for ~$85.

Step 2: Flip your chair over and remove the netting from the bottom of your chair by removing the staples attached to the wooden base.

Step 3: Remove the chairs legs.  Now, a lot of chairs just have legs that unscrew from the base–oh, to be so lucky, right?  Of course it wasn’t going to be that easy.  Nope, these legs were solid wood and extended all the way into the chair base.

So we had to saw them off.  And by we, I mean Mr. Bunches and our very own Bachelor-in-Residence, MO (they moved the whole operation out to the front patio at this point–the garage door was broken at the time, so they went full white-trash style and did the work where all could see). . .

Two down, two to go . . .

Step 5: Attach a wooden base for the rocker/swivel base.  Mr. Bunches and MO picked out some wood at Home Depot to use–the original plan was to have one solid piece of 3/4″ plywood cut to size, but after they found out that the cutters at both Lowe’s and Home Depot were broken, they switched to plan B: two pieces of 3/4″ thick lumber that they could cut to size themselves.

Step 6: Mark and pre-drill holes to attach wood slats to base.  We did two-three holes on each board.

Step 7: Attach slats to base with wood screws.

Step 8: Position rocking base–the base should not be positioned in the center of the chair, but more towards the back of the chair.  Once positioned, mark holes to drill in order to attach the base with bolts and nuts.  The base identifies which part is the front, so make sure you position it correctly.  I don’t have pictures really of this step, but trust me–it happened.

Step 9: Attach rocking base with nuts and bolts.  Tighten.

Step 10: Turn chair over and enjoy.  And by enjoy, apparently that means asking your wife who just birthed your baby to get you and your friend a couple of beers so you can complete the white trash picture on the front lawn.  Classic, eh?

So there you have it–how to convert an upholstered chair into a swivel rocker!  Now that we’ve had it a couple weeks, I have to say that we love it.  It hasn’t migrated to the nursery yet since I tend to nurse Mini Bunches in front of the boob tube (haha–get it–boob tube?), but I’m sure someday it will end up there.  Of course, Mr. Bunches and MO thought it should stay on the front lawn.  Clearly, they were vetoed.

Once it was back inside, of course we had to see how Mini Bunches liked it.  Her first impression?  Loved it.

Of course, 2 seconds later was a different story.  Not sure if it was MO or the chair she was reacting to . . . 🙂

Thanks to our Bachelor-in-Residence for all his help!!  We’ve been rocking almost non-stop these days (mainly to avoid that sad face above).

Big Bird (aka the Glider Post)

As you might recall from my nursery mood board post, I’ve been torn about what to do re: a glider/rocker.  See, the problem is that the ones I love are all a little pricey, especially when I think about the fact that this kiddo will likely be spitting up (and doing who knows what else) in this chair.  So while I love all of these, the reality is that they’re just not in our budget:

Gliders are from here, here, and here.  That last one is a new fave that I found thanks to my sis–turns out it’s designed by one of her friends!  Apparently stylish people flock together.

So the hunt has continued.  My sister-in-law had the genius idea of using an outdoor rocker, kind of like the one below (she actually has one picked out from Home Depot, but I couldn’t find it online; I’m guessing this one’s along the same idea).  At only ~$240 (it’s the Belvedere Wicker Rocker currently on sale at Target), it’s much more reasonable than the $1,000+ ones above.  But, I don’t think it will really jive with our nursery–it’s just a bit too, um, beachy.  But, luckily she lives near the beach, and so the concept works much better for her nursery than ours.  Of course, with that being said, I’m still a little bit in love with this chair, so I might have to get it for our new patio . . . 

In my continued hunt desperate search for an affordable, yet stylish rocker, I’ve decided to turn to my old stand-bys: that is, thrift stores and craigslist.  Well, craigslist did have some gliders, but they were all the traditional nursery ones, which, while great for a ton of people, just weren’t what I was looking for.  And so that left me with thrift stores.  And since Mr. Bunches LOVES thrift stores (insert heavy sarcastic tone here), I decided to strike out on my own a couple weekends ago (Mr. Bunches happened to be in China at the time, so it worked out well.  And yes–I said China.  Shanghai to be precise.  Check it out🙂

Okay, and now (finally–I know I can be a bit long-winded these days), here’s what I managed to find.  Are you ready?  Can I get a drumroll?  Can anyone else tell that I’m pretty excited about this?  Should I keep asking rhetorical questions?  Really?  You think I should?  Six isn’t enough?  You want ten?  Ten, really?  Are you sure?  Okay, that was ten.  Phew.  TA DA–Big Bird has arrived!

Now do you understand the post title?

I mean, just look at that long back and ridiculously amazing tufting!  Not to mention the fluffy softness of yellow velvet . . .

Now, I know some of you are currently completely skeeved out by this–an upholstered chair from a thrift store?  Ew and ick, right?  Well, wrong.  At least for me anyways.  The chair is in great shape, minus a couple stains that I figured I could try to vacuum/scrub out.  And the color was already perfect–yellow, so I didn’t need to reupholster it as long as I could get it looking pretty good.  Or at least, that was my plan.  The only problem is that it isn’t a rocking chair.  In fact, it only has 3 functioning legs.  So I guess it sort of rocks.  No, but seriously, I didn’t care if it was a rocker, because I found this:

So with that knowledge in hand, I decided to fork over the whopping $10 for Big Bird.  Yes–you read that right: $10.  That’s all it cost.  At that price, I figured if I couldn’t get it clean, well, I could just pitch donate it.  And, since I bought it at Buffalo’s ReStore, the money was going to a good cause anyways (Habitat for Humanity).  All in all, I was a happy bird.

So then, it was cleaning time.  While Mr. B was outside doing this last weekend:

I was doing this:

No, I was not making a meringue.  That’s homemade upholstery cleaner: 1 part dish soap to 4 parts water, beaten to a healthy froth (I only used about 1/2 cup dish soap to 2 cups water and that was enough for the whole chair).  Just scrub on the frothy stuff and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.  Not exactly the directions per the manufacturer, but oh well.

Anyways, I got to scrubbing and things were looking good.  Real good.

Of course, I may have scrubbed a bit too hard.  Here’s a shot of the velvet pre-cleaning:

and here’s an after-shot.  See how it’s a bit nubby now?  Oh well–lesson learned I guess.  Don’t scrub velvet fabric with a hard-bristled brush.

But, all in all, I’m pleased with how it came out.  It smells super fresh and clean, and a lot of the dirt/stains came off.

And hopefully over time the new nubbiness of the fabric will subside.  Oh, and see how the chair’s leaning in the picture above?  That’s the result of only 3 functioning legs.  So there you have it–a $10 nursery chair.  Can’t beat that, now can you?  Of course, the rocker mechanism will be ~$90 and then we’ll have to buy some wood to secure it, but all in all, the chair shouldn’t cost more than $150 total, plus a little elbow grease.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it turns out.

And just because I’m getting excited about this nursery coming together, here’s a quick shot of the bambino’s closet as it stands today.  I’m not sure what it is, but I can’t seem to resist buying stuff from Baby Gap (the sale rack of course–I’ve seen enough exploding diapers in my day to know that babies don’t need $50 outfits)–I sort of want that orange sweater in a grownup size.  Is that bad?

One last thing for today–my sister posted this great comment from my earlier mattress post, and I just had to share because I think it’s a genius move.  Especially for a second/vacation home:

For the Sedona house, we recently went on a mattress rampage… Would you believe that we opted for the Macy’s FLOOR MODELS. When all was said and done (and I whipped out coupons and opened up a credit line), we paid $375 for a $1,700 mattress and $475 for a $2,700 mattress!! We had to wait a few weeks until they were released from the floor, and get over our slight grossed-outness about zillions of people laying on them beforehand. Mom had a good point though… she said we aren’t weirded out by hotel beds that gazillions (more than zillions) of people sleep on, so why should this bother us? Alas, our vacation house is now fitted with some pretty dang plush mattresses with a little bit of history hahaha! xo, Sis


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